General gardening topics

How and when to divide Peonies

Last updated on May 5th, 2022

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Peonies are the perfect plants for people who are busy because they don’t need a lot of attention and they live for many years with very little maintenance. However, there might come a time when for the sake of space or simply to help out a mature plant you need to divide and move your Peony.

If your Peony is too large for the position in which it was originally planted, you simply want to divide it to give a piece to someone else, or you wish to move your Peony with you to a new home, you will be pleased to know you can uproot and divide your Peony very easily.

When should you divide your Peonies?

If you’re going to move or divide your Peony it is best to do it in the autumn after the leaves have died back. However, you can do so anytime between October and February. The earlier the better so it has the chance to root while the ground is still warm.

How to divide a Peony

Removing the Peony

Start by carefully digging your Peony out of the ground, being careful not to damage the roots. If it is a mature plant, you might need a garden fork or a garden spade to help you get it out. If some of the thicker roots snap during this process, it won’t be the end of your plant but you should do your best to avoid removing as much of the plant out of the ground as possible without causing any damage.

Splitting the Peony into several pieces

Once the roots are out, you want to clean them with water to get rid of any soil in between the roots. Once this is done you’ll be able to get a better look at the roots and the buds. The buds actually serve as the next set of shoots for the following season so this is where you want to aim when you divide your plant.

Look to have at least 3 buds on each new section

Every division that you create should have at least three buds if you want a flower the following year. If you have a bigger, more mature plant, you can probably get between 5 or 8 buds for every division.

Replanting your divisions

Once you have made your divisions, make sure you have rich, well-draining soil for your new peony plants. They need a spot that’s very sunny to get the most out of them.

Once you have the right location in your garden, the process is simple. Just dig a hole wide enough and deep enough to accommodate the roots of your division. Place the division just deep enough that the buds are just shy of the soil level then cover it with soil. Water it after it’s planted and then care for it the same as you would a newly planted Peony. Make sure they are not planted too deeply because this is a common reason why Peonies often don’t flower, the buds need to be just under the surface of the soil

Planting depth is essential for Peonies to successfully flower

Remember that herbaceous Peonies (those that died back in the autumn) need to be planted with the buds no more than 3cm below the soil surface. If you are planting a woody Peony or a tree Peony the buds need to be at least 7cm below the surface. If you plant your division at the wrong depth it could take them multiple years to flower, or they may fail to flower entirely.

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